Short Film: ‘Fading Lives’ Is a Haunting, Politically Charged Neighborhood Elegy

Fading Lives

Why Watch? Because it’s Flag Day, and all of our flags are now made in China! (This is not exactly true, but check the labels on your patriotic paraphernalia anyway.)

A few months ago, filmmaking team Tiny Carousel brought us Shanghighspeed, a time lapse video of one of the world’s largest cities. Now they’re back with Fading Lives, a portrait of a small historic Shanghai neighborhood on the verge of extinction. It’s a beautiful, elegiac film that mixes brief interviews with the area’s aging residents with poetically charged images of neglected buildings and messy streets. There’s a particularly powerful sequence made up solely of doors, the former passageways of a thriving community that are now closed, perhaps forever.

The immediate cause of the area’s collapse, however, is the government. Buildings are being demolished to make way for new housing, forcing current residents out of the city. One man explains that “In our country there is no ‘why?'” There’s no point in resisting, his house will be knocked down no matter what he does. Fading Lives is an interesting step for Tiny Carousel, after the visually intricate but thematically simple Shanghighspeed. This second documentary is much political, and hints at a potential future of more charged documentaries dedicated, like this one, to The People.

What Will It Cost? Just about 7 minutes.

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Daniel Walber is a freelance critic living in Brooklyn. He holds a MA in cinema studies from New York University, loves any movie under 80 minutes, and is gay for Bette Davis.

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